Category Archives: Workers’ Compensation

Tyson Foods’ Injury Incidents Examined Through OSHA Reports

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22-Hispanic-Poultry-Processor-on-LineAs I wrote in a previous blog post, OSHA has decided to make a 90-day regional emphasis on “high-hazard manufacturing industries” in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri, which are three of the four states in what the Occupational Safety and Health Administrations calls Region 7.*

“The emphasis program focuses on manufacturing industries where injury and illness rates exceed the average for the private sector. Included are manufacturers of the following products: food, furniture, fabricated metal, nonmetallic mineral, machinery, and computer products as well as printing and related support activities,” according to the OSHA news release.

Sadly, this increased inspection effort may have been inspired by some injury incidents recently written about by in an article from the ScienceBlogs website “The Pump Handle: A Water Cooler for the Public Health Crowd” titled “Amputations about at Tyson Foods, OSHA records shed more light on industrial food production.”

Writer Celeste Monforton, who has master’s and doctorate degrees in public health, made a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request regarding the federal OSHA regulation that “requires employers to report within 24 hours any work-related incident that results in an amputation or hospitalization,” according to her article. The request asked for data from Tyson Foods, which “has more than 400 facilities in 30 U.S. states, and it processes 35 million chickens, 400,000 hogs, and 128,000 cattle per week.”#

In a nine-month period, from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, 2015, Monforton discovered 34 reports by Tyson of amputations or hospitalizations.

“The hospitalizations included a worker at the company’s facility in Rogers, AR (Arkansas) who fell 32 feet off of a roof, and a worker in Holcomb, KS (Kansas) who broke his leg while learning to operate a forklift.”

She goes on to write that 17 of 34 incidents were amputations – in a 9-month period – not even over a whole year. The article has a tragic and sobering table that summarizes the amputations, and it is worth clicking to the article to take a look at the table because it includes the month, body part, equipment or tool in use, product (type of plant), city and state involved in each incident.

Here’s a summary of her list that focuses specifically on Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas, where eight of the 17 amputations occurred.

There were four amputations in the Nebraska plants of Lexington (fingertip; and tips of middle and index fingers using band saws in the beef plant), Omaha (ring, index and pinky fingers using the skinner in the poultry plant) and Dakota City (thumb using the sprocket in the pork plant). There were three amputations in the Missouri plants of St. Joseph (both hands using the auger), Monnet (distal portion third finger using the impeller in the poultry plant), and Sedalia (middle finger to first knuckle on the cone line in the poultry plant). The Kansas amputation was in the Emporia beef plant, when the skinner was being used and the end and outside part of a thumb were amputated.

These incidents (and the Kansas forklift-training one mentioned above) may explain OSHA’s new regional emphasis, as Tyson’s meatpacking plants should definitely count as “high-hazard manufacturing industries,” in my opinion.

Though the reports are brutal and tragic, I hope that Monforton completes more FOIA requests to OSHA to track trends, because each of these injury incidents greatly affected someone and their loved ones, whether their lives were changed temporarily or permanently, such as the worker whose hands were amputated in Missouri.

Meanwhile, though I realize it doesn’t cover the same dates as Monforton’s article, Tyson recently released earnings of “record results” for the first quarter of fiscal year 2016, which ended on Jan. 2 of this year, according to the link above.

“‘Fiscal 2016 is off to a very strong start in what we expect to be another record year,’ said Donnie Smith, president and chief executive officer of Tyson Foods. ‘Solid execution across the entire team resulted in record earnings, record operating income, record margins and record cash flows. We captured $121 million in total synergies for the quarter, with $61 million incremental to fiscal first quarter 2015.

“‘Our on-going efforts to invest in and grow our Core 9 product lines are paying off as sales volume for the most recent four week period was up 4%. The Core 9 product lines represent our strongest brands, greatest pricing power and best category growth opportunities and are major contributors to volume and profitability in the retail channel,’ Smith said. The Core 9 is composed of nine retail product lines in the Tyson®, Jimmy Dean®, Hillshire Farm®, Ball Park®, State Fair® and Aidells® brands.”

Though unfortunately, the number of work-related injury incidents isn’t available for the first quarter above, it’s suspected that they’re not much different than any other three-month snapshot of all the Tyson plants. It is a certainty that you can draw your own conclusions about how Tyson values its workers, based on Monforton’s article. It’s worth noting that in a quarter where record profits were had for shareholders, it’s highly doubtful that it was an amputation-free quarter for all workers, based on past performance in Monforton’s article.

In conclusion, I wish the best for OSHA in its quest to focus on “high-hazard manufacturing industries.”

Here’s hoping that the resulting education efforts and inspections mean greater safety knowledge for workers and fewer life-changing incidents, like amputations, that adversely affect workers, their loved ones, and society as a whole.

*Note that Iowa is also in Region 7, but according to OSHA’s website, it’s one of the states that “operate their own OSHA-approved job safety and health programs and cover state and local government workers.” Because Iowa has a state program, I believe that’s why it’s not targeted in this regional emphasis.

#Note that Monforton’s FOIA “does not include information from the states that run their own OSHA program, 10 of which have Tyson operations,” according to the article she wrote that is linked to above.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Preventing Injury, Uncategorized, Workers' Compensation, workplace accidents, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

OSHA Investigates October Incident; Also Focuses Efforts on ‘High-Hazard Manufacturing Industries’

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The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently highlighted two news releases that are related to or will affect workplace safety, workers’ injuries, and workers’ compensation in both Iowa and Nebraska. These two states are in OSHA’s Region 7, along with Kansas and Missouri.

OSHA’s news release on Jan. 14 focused on an incident where a Nebraska worker fell more than 20 feet and died in October of last year. The worker had been employed for Custom Contracting Inc., of Lincoln, for just two weeks, according to the news release from OSHA.

There was no fall protection provided to the workers at their construction site, and “the agency also found the company failed to train workers to:

  • “Recognize fall hazards.
  • “Render first aid.
  • “Operate powered industrial vehicles.

“In addition, guard rails were not installed on open sides and ends of platforms to prevent falls, and lift trucks were found to be modified without manufacturer’s approval,” according to the website.

OSHA proposed penalties of $36,000.

“Fatal incidents like these are entirely preventable. They have tragic consequences for the victims, their families, and their communities,” said Jeff Funke, OSHA’s area director in Omaha, as quoted in the news release. “Construction industry employers must protect workers from falls, which continue to be the leading cause of worker’s death in the construction industry.”

In the second news release from OSHA that I’d like to discuss, a regional emphasis has been announced this is focusing on “high-hazard manufacturing industries” in Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri.

“The increased likelihood that workers in high-hazard manufacturing industries – such as food, furniture, fabricated metal, nonmetallic mineral, machinery and computer products – will be injured on the job is leading federal safety and health inspectors in three Midwestern states to increase its focus on industry outreach and inspections to reduce injury and illness rates,” according to the news release from OSHA.

This “region-wide emphasis program” is expected to last three months and includes “outreach and education to assist employers” to decrease hazards “and increase the probability of inspections at establishments in high-hazard industries with more than 10 employees and those that have not had a comprehensive inspection since 2011.”

If you or a loved one are involved in an incident at work that results in an injury or death, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. This person should also be able to help report your concerns to OSHA as applicable.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in OSHA, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , , .

Workers’ Compensation and Child Support in Nebraska

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Doing_the_best_she_canWhat happens when you are injured at work, but you also pay child support? In Nebraska, generally, there cannot be liens against workers’ compensation benefits. However, Nebraska Revised Statute 48-149 provides for one of those rare instances where a lien may be instituted against workers’ compensation benefits for child support orders. In other words, if you have a Nebraska child support order, it is likely that any child support that is due may be garnished from your workers’ compensation benefit checks or from a workers’ compensation settlement.

If there is an out-of-state child support order, however, the order must first be transferred to the Nebraska courts or to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services before a child support order may attach as a lien to Nebraska workers’ compensation benefits. In order to do that, there are certain procedures that must be followed for a proper transfer of a child support order to Nebraska courts. Often, these procedures are not followed by other states and therefore, there is not be a proper lien against Nebraska workers’ compensation benefits to be garnished. If the out-of-state child support order was properly transferred though, the order will be treated the same as a Nebraska child support order, and workers’ compensation benefits may be garnished to pay said child support.

Regardless of where a child support order is located, it is absolutely imperative that you inform your lawyer about any child support that you owe so your lawyer is able to help you navigate through your workers’ compensation claim and child support concerns.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Nebraska, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , , , .

Workers’ Comp Internet Scam Leaves Illinois Woman Out $29K

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sph-scamMost people have figured out not to send personal information or replies to emails from  people who they don’t know that offer them big bucks if they only send a small amount now. But what if a Facebook friend has an offer for you via personal message? The answer is even if a message is from someone who you think is your friend, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here’s a heads up to be aware of a new scheme involving advance fees with a workers’ compensation twist. Please read this article: Advance-Fee Scam Moves Into Comp Fraud Arena

Be aware that people are willing to take your money, and this is not how any workers’ compensation system in any state works.

The majority of workers’ compensation lawyers I know work on a contingency-fee basis, so even if they need a small retainer fee, they won’t ask for money as a case is ongoing, but they will get paid a portion of the funds at the end of the case.

The original message from the Illinois woman’s Facebook friend’s hacked account “relayed that the woman was eligible to receive a $150,000 workers’ compensation settlement,” according to the article.

In this scam that involved the Internet, phone calls and sending money via the mail, a woman from Illinois sent almost $29,000 to a California woman, who “then allegedly wire(d) the money to multiple locations in Nigeria.”

If someone who is an “attorney” calls you, be sure to get his or her name, and find out the state where they are licensed.

Confirming lawyers’ are licensed can be done through a Google search for “licensed lawyer in state of …” As examples, looking for licensed lawyers in Nebraska and Iowa yielded the following website results: Nebraska Supreme Court Attorney Services Division Lawyer Search: https://mcle.wcc.ne.gov/ext/SearchLawyer.do and Iowa Judicial Branch Office of Professional Regulation Lawyer Search: https://www.iacourtcommissions.org/SearchLawyer.do

 

To report suspected fraud, review The United States Department of Justice Report Fraud site, found at http://www.justice.gov/criminal-fraud/report-fraud

 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in fighting fraud, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , .

Hoping That the Revolution in Medical Care Reaches Injured Workers

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Imagine a cross between a FitBit and a TENS Unit (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) that can control, on demand, issues that hurt workers face: anxiety, pain, PTSD symptoms.

That combination might not be as far-off science fiction as a person would think.

Wearable medical devices are making remarkable advances, according to respected workers’ compensation commentator Robert Wilson.

“We are only scratching the surface of what may be possible,” he predicts. “Wearable devices that can dispense medication, provide biofeedback and can both monitor and adjust a patients vitals are very real possibilities. Devices such as these will improve quality of life with real time application and treatment, and that ‘improved experience’ will help our industry drive better results at an ultimately lower cost.”

A real-life example of these advancements is an app called myBivy, which was originally developed to help veterans with PTSD sleep better by disrupting the physical “symptoms that precede night terrors.” The app is being developed by a team that “Tyler Skluzacek, a student at Macalester College” in St. Paul, Minnesota, began when he was inspired to help his father, a veteran of the Iraq War. The app is in its testing phases now and is estimated to “officially launch between March and May” of this year. Since “7-8 percent of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives” and “11-20 percent of post 9-11 veterans are estimated to have PTSD,” it’s pretty obvious how the app may help those who have developed PTSD through a work-related injury sleep better. I look forward to hearing more about this particular app for sure.

This app meets Wilson’s criteria of how wearables need to evolve to be the most helpful to those who can benefit the most from them.

“To be really effective and successful, the wearable revolution needs at least one more evolution,” Wilson wrote. “An evolution that takes this medium from that of casual observer to mobile clinician; from simple data collector to partner in health. That is when we will see real benefits and results from wearable technology in all health delivery systems.”

I am hopeful that the relentless cost-containment efforts of the “Workers’ Comp Industrial Complex’ will not inhibit these creative efforts, so injured workers and their loved ones will be able to benefit from these advances very soon.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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‘Workers’ Comp Industrial Complex’ Cost-Containment Measures Harm Workers

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The National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo in November featured a party with an acrobat, Hummer limos and a live alligator named Spike. Another workers' comp conference in August hosted a concert by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. (Clockwise from top left: Michael Grabell/ProPublica, Artemis Emslie via Twitter, Tom Kerr via Twitter, Jamie Gassmann via Twitter)

The National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo in November featured a party with an acrobat, Hummer limos and a live alligator named Spike. Another workers’ comp conference in August hosted a concert by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. (Clockwise from top left: Michael Grabell/ProPublica, Artemis Emslie via Twitter, Tom Kerr via Twitter, Jamie Gassmann via Twitter)

It is the beginning of a new legislative year in the United States. State legislatures will face the latest versions of “reforms” to workers’ compensation laws from business and insurance interests. They will renew their annual claims that the proposals benefit workers while coincidentally lowering or containing costs for employers and insurers. I wish these people would be honest about their real intentions. Cut the **** or to quote Monday Night Football: “COME ON MAN!”

A recent expose on the “workers’ comp industrial complex,” is a must read for all who care about injured workers and their rights. ProPulica author Michael Grabell describes the   “workers’ comp industrial complex” as a loose association of insurance and business groups and cost-containment companies, which are being bought and sold for billions of dollars in profits. Meanwhile, workers and their representatives fight endless legislative battles to prevent more benefits reductions and added obstacles to collecting those benefits. 

“… Over the past two decades, a cottage industry of middlemen has emerged, which some have dubbed the ‘workers’ comp industrial complex.’ Even private equity firms have bought in, seeing profit opportunities in employers’ and insurers’ quest to contain spending.

“The middlemen offer an array of services, from managing claims to negotiating medical bills, all promising to reduce costs — although critics say some actually raise them, as well as the burden on those hurt on the job.”

This ProPublica article shows the HUGE business opportunities some see in workers’ compensation. But these efforts will not help the injured worker, because cost containment means reduced benefits, stalling, denied claims, and working the system to delay, all at the expense of the injured worker and often his or her long-term health.

Respected workers’ compensation commentator David DePaolo, writes a column called “DePaolo’s Work Comp World” at workcompcentral.com, a website that bills itself as “Workers’ Compensation Education, Courses, News and Information.”

One of his recent articles, titled “Stop The Fantasy,” takes the notion of cost containment to task, and he also writes his views on the state of how “the media” cover workers’ compensation.

“Workers’ compensation should not be mysterious, should not be hiding, and should be exposed to the public good or bad, because it is for the public – each and every person that works in this country should be afforded reasonable work injury protection. It’s good social policy. It’s good economic policy.”

This focused quote from DePaolo’s commentary regards the “workers compensation industrial complex” that ProPublica took to task, where DePaolo really questions the need for and philosophy of this part of the workers’ compensation system.

“Cost containment is an apt term if we, as an industry, are willing to accept its definitional reality – that the intent of cost containment is to save money for those who are paying it out,” DePaolo wrote in his article.

“Let’s stop with the fantasy that cost containment is for the benefit of injured workers. It’s not. Otherwise it would be called something else. That cost containment paradoxically results in medical treatment that should cause better outcomes is not the paramount reason for these businesses.

“We all know that – so let’s stop trying to pretend that it is something which it is not.

“If the services are intended to benefit injured workers then there should be a better term for those services that should reflect that beneficial treatment,

“Maybe we’re misunderstood. Maybe our good intentions aren’t appreciated.

“But maybe cost containment really is an accurate term – and at whose expense?” 

Cost containment appears to be both big business and big money, from the extensive ProPublica article. Here are two paragraphs that explain the spoils that people could win or received at just one of the “more than 150 workers’ comp conferences a year.” 

“… For three days in November, hundreds of vendors wooed insurers and employers with lavish after-hours parties, giveaways of designer handbags, photos with Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug, and free rides in orange Hummer limousines. … Vendors gave away Apple watches, bottles of bourbon, and a Vespa scooter. There were free massages and shoeshines, a superhero caricature artist, more than one mentalist, and a live alligator named Spike.”

After all this excitement, the ProPublica article explains how much of workers’ compensation premiums that insurers in California spent on overhead – 36 percent – and how “the amount of money that insurers spend on medical cost containment programs has more than doubled from $197 million in 2005 to $471 million in 2014, according to the state workers’ comp ratings bureau.”

Some people involved in the fancy exposition included the following, quoted from ProPublica.

“There were companies that provide networks of doctors and companies that review medical bills, firms that provide expert medical opinions and firms that specialize in complex claims. There were defense lawyers, data processing firms, rehab facilities, surveillance companies, outside claims shops, occupational medicine clinics, pain management services, translators, schedulers, headhunters and associations promoting other conferences.

“There were labs that test injured workers’ urine for illegal drugs. There were even labs that test urine to ensure workers are taking the prescribed drugs instead of selling them.”

Now, because of the profit potential in “cost containment” (this is a phrase that should make people groan, as I did), “private equity firms have gone on a buying spree,” according to ProPublica, resulting in little-known players outside the workers’ compensation system becoming “powerful players in determining the future of how injured workers are treated.” 

“Increasingly, though, decisions to deny care aren’t being made by workers’ employers or insurers, but by these myriad claims administrators, managed care companies and cost-containment firms. Some industry observers say the firms have added a layer of cold bureaucracy to an already complicated system,” according to the ProPublica article.

I could provide more quotes and details from the articles, but as I wrote initially in this post, both the ProPublica and DePaolo’s articles are essential reading material for those who care about workers, how society treats workers, and who helps workers, especially when they’re injured. Because the system that’s supposed to help those who get hurt at work, workers’ compensation, is often bloated, confusing, and full of those (like folks working in cost containment) whose focus isn’t necessarily to either help injured workers heal, get back to work, or move on with their lives, but muddle the process instead.

We cannot match the resources of the “workers’ comp industrial complex,” but our cause to serve injured workers by getting them the prompt, quality medical treatment they need and deserve is just, and we must keep fighting the good fight!

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Insurance, insurance regulation, Money, Workers' Compensation, Workers' Compensation Reform and tagged , , , , , , .

Pregnant Workers Should Get Workers’ Compensation If They Have a Claim

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pregnany at wrokA new law went into effect during 2015 in Nebraska that requires employers of 15 or more employees to accommodate pregnant workers on the job. This is a significant change that affects working women by expanding workplace protections for those who become pregnant.

Nebraska’s protections for pregnant employees go beyond even the standards for pregnancy discrimination under federal law. The new law also protects women with post-childbirth medical conditions and women who choose to breastfeed or pump.

This law means that pregnant women in Nebraska will be able stay on the job longer and will have an easier time returning to work.

This accommodation includes obtaining “equipment for sitting, more frequent or longer breaks, periodic rest, assistance with manual labor, job restructuring, light-duty assignments, modified work schedules, temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work, time off to recover from childbirth, or break time and appropriate facilities for breastfeeding or expressing breastmilk.” Nebraska Revised Statute 48-1102 (11)

These changes outlaw discrimination against a pregnant woman with respect to hiring, advancement, discharge, training and other terms, conditions and privileges of employment. These protections extend to a pregnant employee before, during and after a pregnancy.

Unfortunately, pregnancy doesn’t mean that women can avoid work injuries, especially in female-dominated fields like nursing and human-services support. Sometimes employers and/or insurers will attempt to use the excuse that since an employee is going to be out because of pregnancy that they do not have to pay temporary disability benefits to an injured worker who is suffering from a work injury.

But when an occupational or work injury and a non-occupational injury, combine to cause disability, employers still have to pay those disability benefits. Nebraska’s new law on pregnancy doesn’t change that fact. If anything, smart and ethical employers will attempt to accommodate injured pregnant employees in legitimate light-duty jobs so they do not have to pay disability benefits.

In addition, when a pregnant employee is injured on the job and is receiving workers’ compensation benefits and later is ordered by her physician not to perform certain work activities or is in need of bed rest due to the pregnancy, an injured and pregnant employee’s workers’ compensation benefits cannot be reduced or suspended on account of the pregnancy in both Nebraska and Iowa.

However, not all employers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers understand or follow the law. If you are injured and not receiving workers’ compensation benefits because your employer says that they could accommodate your job but for you being pregnant, you need to call a firm that handles both discrimination and workers’ compensation law. You should also call an employment lawyer if you are pregnant and being forced to take unpaid leave rather than having your job duties modified or changed.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Employment, employment law, Health, Nebraska, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , .

I was injured at home while working for my employer. Am I entitled to workers’ compensation benefits?

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2478049891_6cdc054a10_oToday’s post comes from guest author Kristina Brown Thompson from The Jernigan Law Firm in North Carolina.

Nebraska law is similar to the blog below. In Nebraska, it has never firmly been determined what kinds of accidents and injuries would be covered while working at home. However, the question of whether a “home-office injury” would be covered under workers’ compensation would almost certainly come down to the extent that the activity leading to the accident or injury “arises out of” and is “in the course of” the employee’s employment.

The answer to this question would be heavily dependent on the facts of the case. With that said, the more that an activity is directly related to the benefit of the employer, the greater the chance of recovery. In addition, other states have found home-office injuries covered in situations where the work was something directed by the employer or the work was furthering an employer’s business. The blog below should also give some guidance as to how a home-office injury would be handled in Nebraska. Please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer with questions about your or a loved one’s specific situation.

We’ve all seen the ads for “work from home” jobs (spoiler alert – many are scams). However, corporations like Apple, IBM, CVS, and many, many more are frequently advertising work-from-home or telecommuter jobs to employees thus providing a flexible work schedule. The question then arises – what happens if the telecommuting employee is injured at home? For example, what if the employee is injured during a personal coffee break? What if he slips on his driveway? Or, if she trips over her pet while walking to her van to get work supplies?

 

In deciding on whether an employee’s injury may be compensable, courts have generally considered (1) how regularly the employee works from home, (2) the presence of work equipment at home (e.g. work computer or corporate phone), and/or (3) other conditions particular to that employment that make it necessary for the employee to work from home. The courts specifically look to whether the employee is working from home for his or her convenience, or if it’s necessary from the employer’s standpoint that the employee work from home (e.g. there is no other suitable place of employment offered by the employer).

 

For example, in Utah, the Court of Appeals held that a sales manager who was spreading salt on his driveway in anticipation of an important business delivery sustained a compensable slip and fall at work. The Court determined that the manager’s motivation in spreading the salt was to assist the employer’s business. [AE Clevite Inc. v. Labor Comm’n, 2000 UT App. 35, 996 P.2d 1072 (2000)]. Also, where a custom decorator for J.C. Penney was walking out to her van in her garage to get fabric samples and tripped over her dog, that injury was also compensable [Sandburg v. J.C. Penney Co, Inc., 260 P.3d 496 (2011)]. The Court explained that the home premises was also her work premises and the decorator had to keep samples in her van to show potential customers.

 

The bottom line is that when telecommuters are injured at home during the actual performance of their jobs, regardless of how insignificant, the injury may be compensable.

 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Six attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 90 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska and Iowa in state-specific workers’ compensation systems. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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